Chicken Enchilada Bake

When it’s dinner time, is there anything better than an easy recipe with an easy cleanup?

For me, that’s what does me in at the end of the day is the clean up. I’d wish I had a dishwasher the size of my fridge so I can just shove everything in there, no order or organization needed, press a button and *poof* everything’s sparkling clean. I think most moms will agree with me, sometimes it’s that one lone dirty plate that can turn a happy evening into meltdown.

Don’t be fooled by these photos, if you follow me on Instagram you’ll see what my behind the scenes photos look like. Behind this organized photo is 1,001 toys all strewn about the floor, stray puffs that were once contained in a cup, and most likely a sink full of dirty dishes and a dishwasher full of clean dishes that I’ve been too lazy to unload. Sure, I dream about having a picture-perfect home like the ones I see on HGTV, but when I think about it, that’s not a real expectation for real people. Real people, we work all day, we come home exhausted and want to spend those moments with our children, we’re preparing our meal that we’ll share together, we’re reading bedtime stories and finding lovies and blankies and finally pouring a glass of wine. Making my house perfect? That’s just going to have to wait.

This chicken enchilada bake makes an easy dinner that has so much substance and flavor, and an easy cleanup. Onions, corn, beans, and chicken all cooked in an enchilada sauce then baked with pepper jack cheese and corn tortillas and topped with lime juice and queso fresco….are you hungry yet? I’ve made this twice in the same week, and ate the leftovers for lunch that’s how good this is. Your family will be asking for “Chicken Enchilada Bake”!

If you have a cast iron skilled you can make this even easier by cooking everything up in the skillet then placing the skillet under the broiler to bake. For those that don’t have a skillet, no worries, cook everything up in a large pan then pour into a 9×13 baking dish. While the dish is broiling the cheese, wash out the pan to clean up!

-1 large chicken breast
-1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
-1/2 white onion, diced
-1 10.5oz black beans, drained
-2 fresh ears of corn
-2 15oz cans crushed tomatoes
-1 cup water
-1/2 tablespoon onion
-1 teaspoon garlic powder
-1 teaspoon cumin
-1 and 1/4 teaspoons salt
-5-6 corn tortillas
-2 and 1/4 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
-Limes and queso fresco for garnishing

1. Diced the chicken breast into small chunks, diced the onion, cut the corn off of the cob (you don’t cook the cob you’re cutting the corn kernels off of the cob and then we’ll cook them) and lastly grate the pepper jack cheese.

2. Heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion. Cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Next add the corn, cook an additional 4 minutes until pieces are lightly browned. Pour in the crushed tomato and water, then season with the onion powder, garlic powder, cumin and salt. Then, stir in the chicken pieces and the drained beans. Simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes. You want a slight bubble happening to the sauce as the chicken cooks.

3. After 15 minutes, pour into a 9×13 baking dish. Tear the tortillas into smaller pieces and place over top of the enchilada mixture until it’s completely cover, then cover with the shredded cheese. Place under the broiler for 5-6 minutes until the cheese is browned and bubbly. Now, if you have a cast iron skillet you can make the entire dish in the skillet, including placing under the broiler. But if you don’t cook everything in a large sauce pan then pour into the 9×13 baking dish for the final baking.

4. To serve, add a generous amount of queso fresco and fresh squeezed limes.

Inspired by: Half Baked Harvest

Raspberry Jello Cake

I know what you’re thinking.

You saw that the title is called Jello Cake and this looks nothing like a cake made of jello. I promise you, this in indeed a jello cake. This incredibly easy, quick, and gorgeously colorful cake is given this deep rosy color by, wait for it, a packet of jello! This recipe was passed down to my mom by her aunt, and it was something she made when we were kids. It’s fun and a little whimsical with the jello and was something I wanted to add into my baking rotation. I can imagine Lilly asking to make the “jello cake”! What kid doesn’t get a total kick out of mixing in a packet of jello into the cake mix, then watching it swirl around as you stir seeing a boring beige vanilla cake turn into this vibrant beauty below? And in case you were wondering, it’s just as fun when you’re an adult.

This wins a prize for being one of the easiest cakes you can throw together but it certainly doesn’t look boring or average, does it? Make this for a party and you’ll have everyone asking for the recipe.

The cake itself is delightfully sweet without being overpowering or unpleasant. The hint of raspberry gives a fresh burst and gives the cake a light and airy flavor. Now, the recipe I’d have has a kid didn’t have any icing, but instead was dusted with powdered sugar. For my spin, I really wanted to give this a subtle almond flavor in an almond cream cheese frosting and garnish with some toasted shaved almonds to add a bit of a crunch.

Oh my this was the perfect combination of sweet raspberry and warm almond.

Make this and it will become a family favorite!

For the Cake
-1 box vanilla cake mix (don’t follow the recipe on the box, follow below)
-1 packet of raspberry jello (don’t follow the recipe on the box, follow below)
-2/3 cup water
-2/3 cup vegetable oil
-4 eggs

For the Frosting
-handful of sliced almonds
-3 oz softened cream cheese
-1 tablespoon softened butter
-1 teaspoon almond extract
-3/4 cups powdered sugar

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil, and pour on a handful of sliced almonds, up to 1/4 cup. You can find sliced almonds in your baking aisle. Bake for 8 minutes until brown and toasted.

2. In a mixing bowl, with a handhold mixer or in your stand mixer, blend together the box of cake mix, the packet of jello, eggs, water, and oil. Pour into a greased bundt cake pan and bake for 40 minutes.

3. While the cake is baking, make the frosting. It’s very important the cream cheese and butter are softened, blending with them if they aren’t will create lumps and bumps and no one wants a lumpy frosting! So blend together the softened cream cheese, softened butter, the almond extract and the powdered sugar. It might look like there won’t be enough frosting, but you only need enough to cover the top and have a little spill down the edges.

4. Allow the cake to cool almost all the way before frosting then spread the frosting over top. Having the cake slightly warm is good, it helps the frosting melt a little bit and spill over the edges. I find it easiest to spoon the frosting all around the top in a circle, then using my spoon or frosting spatula to press down on it and smooth it back and forth to help it pour over the edges. Lastly, top with as much of the toasted almonds as you like. They really add a warm crunchy flavor so I like a lot.


Easy Pesto Pizza

I’m such a fan of homemade pizzas for dinner.

If  you want a quick, easy, affordable dinner idea for a busy weeknight, pizza is definitely the way to go. There are so many varieties and most of them don’t require extensive prep work. Like this one here: Easy Pesto Pizza.

You’ll only be dicing some cherry tomatoes, that’s it! Everything else is just a basic layering and combining to get this luxurious and colorful pesto pizza. While you could be a total rockstar and whip up your own pesto for this, jarred pesto is completely fine and I use it in recipes all the time. It saves so much time and energy and you’re still getting the robust fresh flavor of pesto. Sizes of the jars are going to vary by brand, you’ll see below the jar I used measured 6.7oz and I used half of the jar. You’ll have to make some adjustments if you get a jar slightly larger, and by all means if you want to add more pesto to your pizza go right ahead! The flavor combination of the garlicky pesto with the cool and creamy ricotta will leave you wanting this every week! And since it’s so easy, you totally can.

Another note, I use bagged shredded Mozzarella cheese on my pizzas. I’ve bought the block of cheese and shredded it myself before and honestly, I found that it was giving a slightly chewier texture when baked on pizzas and I wasn’t loving it. So go ahead, grab the jarred pesto and bagged cheese and call it a day. Haven’t you worked hard enough today?

-1 thin crust refrigerated pizza crust
-2 and 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
-1/2 cup ricotta cheese
-1/2 of a 6.7oz jar of pesto (jarred pesto varies in size, for this recipe I used 1/2 of a jar measuring 6.7oz…you might need to adjust to more or less depending on the size of the jar you use or the amount of pesto you want on the pizza)
-1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
-1/2 cup diced cherry tomatoes
-Extra virgin olive oil, salt, garlic powder for the crust

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees, lightly spray your largest baking sheet with cooking spray, then unroll the pizza dough onto the sheet and spread until it covers your sheet. Event the dough breaks and you get a hole, just gently pinch the dough back together. Bake for 8 minutes.

2. After the dough has pre-baked, remove from the oven the cover with the Mozzarella cheese, leaving enough room for a crust all around the pizza. Dollop the ricotta cheese over top in random drops, then spoon the pesto evenly over top, using your spoon to spread it around and swirling it into the ricotta a bit. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the entire pizza, and lastly lightly brush the outer crust with a little extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and garlic powder. I like to do this so the final bites of the crust have just as much flavor as the rest of the pizza!

3. Bake 10-12 minutes until the crust is brown and the Mozzarella is bubbly and browned. Remove from the oven and garnish with the died cherry tomatoes.


Spanish Shakshuka

What is Shakshuka?

Shakshuka, or sometimes spelled Shakshouka, is a Middle Eastern and North African breakfast of poached eggs and a tomato mixture with peppers and spices. It’s rich and abundant in flavor and hearty so that it will keep you full all morning. I first became interested in Shakshuka when a photograph on the dish stopped me in my scroll. The vibrant reds from the tomatoes and the creaminess to the sauce, the photo was too beautiful not to make.

I absolutely love traditional Shakshuka, but I wanted to create a Spanish-inspired version with additional spices and spicy chorizo then topped with a Mexican cheese. This Spanish Shakshuka is the breakfast you need to make if you want a warm, slightly spicy, totally filling breakfast in a good way, you won’t feel over-full or yucky after eating this! Topped with either cotija cheese or queso fresco, the cooling effect the cheese adds really compliments the spice from the sauce and chorizo.

As noted above, traditionally Shakshuka is made by poaching the eggs in the tomato sauce. I make mine by cooking the eggs to over-medium in a separate pan then topping the sauce with the cooked eggs. I do this because:
1. I don’t like poached eggs.
2. I’ve tried poaching the eggs in the sauce several times before and was never able to get it quite right.

So with that, I give you this recipe. You’ll want to make these every weekend it’s that good, and it makes savory leftovers too! I usually have a few servings of leftovers that I’ll reheat the next morning with a fresh cooked egg and some more crumbled cheese. Great way to start the day!

-1 small white onion, sliced thin
-1/2 red pepper, sliced thin
-1/2 green pepper, sliced thin
-3 cloves garlic
-5 chorizo sausage links, removed from casing
-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-1 (28oz) can whole plum tomatoes (I used Tuttorosso, you’ll use the tomatoes and the sauce and I found the sauce had a good thickness), roughly chopped
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1 tablespoon paprika
-2 teaspoons cumin
 -1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
-1/2 teaspoon oregano
-2 teaspoons cornstarch
-crumbled cotija cheese or Queso Fresco

1. Mix together the cumin, paprika, garlic powder and oregano. In a large sauce pan over medium/ medium-high heat, cook the chorizo. I like to cook on one side for a few minutes, then flip and cook the other side a few minutes more. Then, using your spatula break up the links into small pieces, continue to cook until no longer pink inside. Once cooked, spoon into a paper towel lined bowl to absorb excess grease. The clean out the pan to remove grease.

2. In the same pan, heat the extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onions and peppers. Spread them out into an even layer and let them cook, untouched about 5-6 minutes. Stir and repeat until all the onions and peppers are nicely dark and charred a bit. With a zester, zest in the garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds. Add the spice mixture and stir to coat the veggies. (Keep an eye on your heat, adjust down or up as needed). Now add the diced tomatoes and the sauce from the can, the salt, and the cornstarch. Increase heat until the mixture is bubbling, then reduce heat to low to simmer, add in the chorizo. Simmer for 10 minutes and taste, season with additional salt if needed.

2. While the sauce is simmering, in another pan cook your eggs to your liking. Most Shakshuka is served with poached eggs, but I prefer mine about over-medium. It’s up to you, although scrambled wouldn’t work here.

3. To serve, plate a few spoonfuls of the tomato mixture, top with crumbled cotija cheese or queso fresco, and lastly the eggs. Eat with sturdy crusty bread, fresh biscuits, or naan.


Brown Butter Cinnamon Sticky Buns

When you think of baking that makes you feel all warm and cozy, a few things come to mind but I think homemade cinnamon sticky buns take the #1 spot.

There’s just something about the beautiful swirls of cinnamon and brown sugar all tightly rolled in perfect spirals, then smothered in a sweet cream cheese frosting. Even if you’re not a baker, or you’re still learning baking, these cinnamon rolls are pretty fool-proof and don’t have any tricky or complex methods. The only thing you need to account for is there’s about 40 minutes of time in the process required for letting them rise, so this isn’t something you whip up and bake right away. But don’t let that discourage you! Trust me on this, make these once and you’ll be wanting these every weekend.

For me, there’s nostalgia in a cinnamon sticky bun. It was our morning tradition on Thanksgiving morning…cinnamon sticky buns while watching the parade. A little something to hold you over until the non-stop snacking and eating of Thanksgiving can begin. As you’ll see I noted below, I actually only use a small amount of powdered sugar in the frosting so it’s less sweet and has more of the cream cheese flavor coming through. I much prefer it this way, and I think you will too. The cinnamon rolls themselves have enough sugar in the filling and the dough, and I prefer to let that be the sweetness to this while the frosting has a smooth cooling effect. If you prefer a sweeter version you can always add more to your liking!

I love how the thick frosting just hugs every spiral of the cinnamon buns.

Garnish with a little sprinkle of cinnamon if you want! I think it makes these even more irresistible.

Don’t let the multiple steps discourage you from making these! There’s nothing complex or tricky about these, and the fresh taste of a homemade cinnamon bun is so worth the effort of making them. Brown butter elevates the warm and rich flavor, and a frosting with less sugar means the cinnamon bun flavor and sweetness can shine through on it’s own, and not be overpowered by a too-sweet icing.

For the Dough
-3/4 cup milk
-1/4 cup butter
-3 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
-1 package instant yeast
-1/4 cup white sugar
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/4 cup water
-1 egg

 For the Filling
-1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
-1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
-1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon butter

 For the Frosting

-2 tablespoons softened butter
-4 oz cream cheese, softened
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1. To start making the dough, heat the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat. Mix in the butter and stir until melted, let it cool until lukewarm.

2. In a large bowl, combine 2 and 1/4 cups of the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt and whisk together. Add the water, egg and the cooled milk mixture, beat in a stand mixer or with a handheld mixer. Add the remaining 1 cup of flour (adding it as 1/2 cup at a time) and stir with a wooden spoon after each addition of flour. When the dough has come together, lightly flour your counter and knead the dough ball on the surface for about 5 minutes. When the dough is ready, it will spring back when lightly pressed.

3. Place dough in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth and let rise for 10 minutes.

4. While the dough is rising, start making the filling by making the browned butter. Melt the 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon of butter in a small pot, once melted increase the heat so the butter is bubbling and cook roughly 4-5 minutes until browned. You want to whisk continuously as it’s getting close to browning and keep a close eye on it. You’ll know it’s close by the smell, the butter will smell warm and slightly nutty and will be caramel in color. If you’ve reached 5 minutes and you still have yellow butter, keep cooking in 30 second increments, slightly increasing the heat. Brown butter should be a deep caramel color and you’ll see the milk particles have separated from the liquid and have also browned. The smell is incredible! Once you’ve got your brown butter, pour it into a heat safe bowl and allow to cool to lukewarm. While the butter is cooling, mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon.

5. Now that the dough has risen for 10 minutes, place it on a lightly floured surface and using your rolling pin, roll it out into a 12×9 rectangle. I use a tape measure to confirm the size. Using a pastry brush, completely cover the dough with the brown butter, then sprinkle the dough with the cinnamon sugar mix, pressing it into the dough with your hands so it doesn’t fall out. Make sure you get the cinnamon sugar all the way to the edges.

6. Now it’s time to roll! Starting with the edge closest to you, roll the dough into a log, when it’s completely rolled make sure to pinch the seam into the dough to seal it shut. Cut into 12 rolls (you might get a few less depending on how big you rolled your dough, and the two edge pieces are usually a little smaller, so getting only 10 rolls is possible too). Place in a 9×13 baking dish and let rise for 30 minutes. While they are rising again, preheat oven to 375 degrees.

7. Once the 30 minutes is up, bake cinnamon rolls for 17-20 minutes until nice and golden. Let cool 10 minutes before frosting.

8. While the rolls are baking, make the frosting. Whip the softened butter and softened cream cheese together with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Stir in the vanilla, then stir in the powdered sugar. I only use 1 and 1/2 cups because I don’t want my frosting overly sweet. If you want a very sweet frosting you can add up to 3 cups of powdered sugar. A tip on getting a smooth frosting is to sift your powdered sugar before mixing in, usually if you just dump powdered sugar right into a mixture you’re going to get these little pockets or balls of the sugar that don’t dissolve and will make your frosting look a little bumpy…so run it through a sifter or I use my metal pasta strainer to get a super fine powder-like consistency, then mix in. Spread frosting over cinnamon buns, then garnish with a light dash of cinnamon.


Source: The Baker Chick

Pretzel Bites with Cheddar Beer Cheese Dip

So who else is completely melting in this heat?

Here in Northern New Jersey we certainly are. Now, I realize that in some areas of the country and the world 100 degree heat and hotter is totally and every day thing. But when you’re not used to that climate, man is it HOT. I think we’ll all cringe a little bit when we get next month’s electric bill and see what it cost just to stay mildly comfortable indoors these past few days. It also probably wasn’t a good idea that I decided that this weekend would be the time I made these adorable pretzel bites with beer cheese dip. Heating the oven to 425 degrees plus a boiling pot of water made the kitchen feel like I was on the surface of the sun. But, I’d already dreamt these up in my head and once I’ve done that there’s no changing plans or turning back. On the plus side, the crisp cold beers we had with these were so refreshing.

Here’s your warning with these….these are time intensive and I’d rate these as “medium” on the complexity scale. There’s multiple steps, rising rough, boiling, then baking. It takes time. But, these are so good and the taste of fresh pretzel dough that’s been soft-baked with coarse sea salt then dipped into sharp Cheddar beer cheese dip….well there’s just no substitute. Here’s my recommendation, make these when you’re not planning on making anything else. So, don’t try these for the first time when you’re hosting a party and you’ve got a ton of other things to make. Make these when this is the only thing you’ll cook up, or you’re going to a party and just need to bring one thing (everyone will love you if you bring these by the way). These would be the perfect football watching snack! Also, how awesome is this newsprint food paper? It’s a wax paper that doesn’t absorb oil, find them on Amazon!

The beer cheese dip tastes best when you use sharp Cheddar. I actually only buy sharp Cheddar, and in many cases I buy extra sharp. I find that the flavor you get when using sharp or extra sharp is really what gives you that taste of cheese you’re looking for. The beer cheese recipe calls for a teaspoon of Dijo mustard, I recommend following that and only using a teaspoon. You’re just getting the tangy kick from it, but you don’t want to create a mustard flavor here, the cheese is the main star.

Pretzel bites with Cheddar Beer Cheese Dip is an impressive appetizer that makes a large batch for a crowd. Perfect for entertaining or watching football, the pretzels are soft with just the right amount of salt. The beer cheese dip made with sharp Cheddar cheese is a smooth and tangy companion to the salty pretzel.

For the Pretzel Bites
-1 and 1/2 cups warm water
-2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
-1 package active dry yeast (2 and 1/4 teaspoons)
-3 ounces butter, melted
-2 and 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
-5 cups all-purpose flour
-Vegetable oil for greasing bowl
-12 cups water
-1/3 cup baking soda
-1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
-Coarse sea salt

For the Beer Cheese
-3 tablespoons butter
-3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
-1/2 cup beer
-1 cup half and half or whole milk (I used half and half)
-1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
-1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
-1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
-1/4 teaspoon pepper
-3 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

1. To start the pretzel bites, in a stand mixer combine the 1 and 1/2 cups warm water, the melted butter, sugar and yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes.

2. Add in the salt and flour and mix on low speed until the dough comes together, increase the speed to medium and knead for 3-4 minutes until the dough has pulled away from the sides of the bowl. If the dough is too sticky, add in flour a tablespoon at a time, although the 5 cups was perfect for me. Lightly flour your countertop and your hands and knead the dough on the counter until you form a large ball. Lightly grease a bowl with the vegetable oil, then place the dough inside. Cover with a towel and let it rise for 1 hour. The dough should double in size.

3. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Pour the 12 cups of water into a large pot and bring to a boil spray your baking sheets lightly with cooking spray. Whisk the egg and the tablespoon of water together.

4. Remove the dough from the bowl and cut into 8 equal parts. Rolls each piece into a long rope. I start this rolling it back and forth in my hands, like you were using a stick to try and start a fire. It lets the weight of the dough as you’re holding it up right pull the dough down, helping it to elongate and form the thin rope. Then I place it flat on the counter, and roll back and forth gently pulling outwards on any parts that are still a little too thick. Using a knife or kitchen shears (I find the shears much easier and faster to be able to snip off the bites rather than using a knife to slice) cut your pretzel bites and place them in a bowl, you want them to be about the size of a quarter. They will puff up when you boil them so you don’t want to cut them too big since they’re going to get bigger. Repeat this until all dough has been cut into the dough bites.

5. When the water has come to a boil, SLOWLY add the baking soda. This makes the water fizz up rapidly, do not pour it in all at once. Place 15 of the dough bites into the water at a time, boil for 30 seconds, then remove with a slatted spoon and place onto a baking sheet. Arrange them until the sheet is filled, make sure none of the dough bites are touching. Brush each with the egg wash, then sprinkle with the coarse sea salt. Bake for 13-15minutes. I found 13 minutes was perfect for my oven. Repeat until all dough has been made into pretzel bites.

6. To make the beer cheese sauce, melt the butter in a sauce pot over medium heat, add the flour and whisk to combine and cook for 30 seconds. Slowly pour in the beer, then the milk, whisking while you pour. Cook over medium heat until the mixture has thickened, this will take several minutes and will eventually become a consistency like a gravy.

7. Once thickened, add the mustard, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, pepper and salt. Stir to combine, then lower heat and add in the cheese 1 cup at a time, whisking to melt the cheese and form a smooth cheese sauce.

Now relax, crack a beer and enjoy!

Pretzel Bites Source: Two Peas and Their Pod
Beer Cheese Dip Sauce: The Chunky Chef

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

There are certain foods that come to mind when you say ‘comfort food’.

Cheesy Baked Macaroni and Cheese probably comes to mind, doesn’t it?

There’s just something about a homemade, super cheesy, crispy topping macaroni and cheese. It screams nostalgia, it evokes love, it makes you feel all warm and cozy when you dig in. I had the pleasure of living in Charleston,SC for nearly six years…and let me tell you, I ate some really good mac n’ cheeses in those years. The South definitely has the knack for perfecting certain foods, and comfort foods like mac n’ cheese is one of those foods. I feel like this is one of those things that becomes a staple food that as a mom, I just have to know how to make. So naturally, I turned to my mom for the recipe she used when we were growing up.

She brought over a cookbook that was browned on the edges, The Good Housekeeping All-American Cookbook, the classic recipe I remember eating as a kid. Now, the food blogger in me of course made a few minor alterations, making it a bit cheesier If you want an easy, classic tasting baked macaroni and cheese this is for you. The next time it’s rainy, or cold and snowy, or you’re bit down in the dumps…dig out this recipe and make yourself some feel-good food.

I love this first scoop, breaking the crispy topping and pulling up the scoop of cheesy baked noodles.



Baked Macaroni and Cheese

A classic comfort food perfect for adults and kids alike. Super cheesy, super warm, extra crunchy with baked Panko crumbs on top. Make this a family favorite!

  • Author: aseasonedgreeting


-3 cups uncooked elbow noodle pasta
-4 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
-5 tablespoons butter
-3/4 cup Panko crumbs
-1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
-1 teaspoon salt
-1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
-1 and 1/2 cups milk
-Paprika for topping


1. Preheat oven to 350. Cook the elbow noodles according to package, and spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.

2. In a small pot, melt 3 tablespoons of butter, then pour over the Panko crumbs and stir to coat.

3. In the same pot, over medium heat melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, then stir in the flour, salt, dry mustard, and a few dashes of pepper…stir until everything is blended. Slowly stir in the milk, and cook until smooth and slightly thickened. Remove from heat, then pour in 3 cups of the shredded cheese.

4. Place the cooked and drained elbow noodles in your baking dish. Then, pour the cheese sauce over top. Gently stir together to make sure all noodles are coated, even the noodles on the edges of the dish. Top with the remaining 1 cup of cheese, then the Panko, ad finally sprinkle generously with paprika. Bake for 20 minutes.


Whipped Avocado

Whipped avocado makes a smooth and fresh topping to tacos, burritos, or any Mexican dish. 
We all love guac, don’t we?
We pay extra for it. That gorgeous dollop of green sitting on top of a burrito bowl or taco. But what if I told you there’s an avocado topping that’s just as good as guacamole? I’m not making this up. Whipped avocado is going to be your new must-have avocado condiment. 
Whipped avocado blends together so smooth, so much zest from the lime, and will drape over your chicken burrito rice bowl or ground beef taco so perfectly. Oh an also, it takes like 5 minutes to make. So whip this up (pun intended) and fall in love with your newest avocado creation.

-1 ripe avocado
-1 lime, juiced
-1/4 cup sour cream
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/8 teaspoon pepper

1. Combine the avocado, the juice of an entire lime, and the sour cream, salt and pepper and blend until smooth with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer.


Balsamic Reduction and Goat Cheese Pizza

 Balsamic Reduction Goat Cheese Pizza is an abundantly flavorful spin on pizza night. A sweet balsamic reduction drizzled over tangy goat cheese and smooth Mozzarella cheese then topped with fresh crisp arugula. Fast and easy to make but this tastes gourmet and complex.

I have to jump right in here and talk about this pizza.

I know, you’re used to the whole “blog” thing where I talk about what I’ve been doing, something that’s on my mind, or crack you up with my charming wit. But not today. You’re going to want to get right to this to. Just look at that photo below. Do you see those glistening onions drenched in a sweet balsamic reduction? And the pools of tangy goat cheese all melty and ready to be eaten.

This is one of my favorite pizzas to make. It tastes and looks difficult to make but it is absolutely so easy. A few quick preparations and this comes together in less then 30 minutes. I think this would be great to make for a pizza party or get together with friends. Just imagine a spread with this pizza and a few bottles of crisp cold white wine. Trust me, everyone will be asking you for this recipe! And I won’t make you wait any longer, here’s the recipe. Now go make your shopping list and make this this weekend!

-1 thin crust Pillsbury pizza crust
-1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
-1/2 tablespoon sugar
-1 large white onion, sliced thin
-1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
-2 and 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
-4oz goat cheese (you won’t use the whole thing but this was the smallest size I could find.)

1. Heat oven to 425. Lightly spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray and unroll the thin crust pizza dough onto the sheet and stretch the dough until it fills the sheet. Bake for 8 minutes.

2. In a small pan, add the balsamic vinegar and sugar. Heat to a boil then reduce to low to simmer, about 7-8 minutes. Whisk occasionally to it doesn’t burn. Remove from heat and pour into a small bowl.

3. In a large pan over medium-high heat, heat the EVOO and add the sliced onions. Cook until dark browned and lightly crispy. If onions are sticking to the pan, add a drizzle of EVOO and adjust the heat to medium if needed. Cook about 10 minutes, don’t over stir. You want the onions to sit on the heat to get browned before stirring them around too much.

4. Top the pre-baked pizza crust with the shredded Mozzarella cheese, making sure to leave an edge for the crust. Next add the onions, then lastly generously crumble goat cheese as much goat cheese as you like over top. I do about half of the 4oz block, so 2oz should be sufficient. But if you like more go ahead and add more! Bake for 10-12 minutes.

5. To garnish drizzle with the balsamic reduction and arugula.


Source: Eat Good 4 Life